Saturday, July 25, 2009

Isle LaMotte

Isle La Motte is an island in Lake Champlain. Sam Champlain camped here for a while in July 1609 (watch out for quadracentennial celebrants!), and it is the site of Vermont's first permanent European settlement. Teddy Roosevelt was here addressing the fish and game league when he learned president McKinley had been shot.

Isle La Motte is also home to the world's oldest known coral reef, ~450 million years. The reef is hundreds of miles long, but here's where it outcrops and is visible.

Last but not least, we paddled around it yesterday. It's about 15 miles around, with just a few hundred people, so being the first town didn't lead to being biggest.

Here at the put in we see I still have Mr. Twitchy the paddle. As you can see, it appears to be wrapped around my old Greenland Paddle... maybe that's got something to do with it's mysterious properties?

We landed to check out this statue of Samuel Champlain at his camping spot.
Champlain statue on Isle LaMotte

A couple of people had to confer on the route

Typical shoreline:

Sam from the local kayak dealer announced he was having a sail.

We lunched on Cloak Island, just off the south end of Isle La Motte. Much of the greenery is poison Ivy, so stay on the beach.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Fort Cassin

Over the years the Otter Creek has pushed enough sediment to form what looks like a canal with a levy on either side sticking out close to a mile from the shore of Lake Champlain.

Yesterday we launched at the Fort Cassin boat ramp, located at the base of this extension.

Fort Cassin was located out on the end, named for a navy Lt. Cassin in the war of 1812. Cassin commanded the fort with only 7 light cannon in a battle with British ships which were trying to prevent new American ships built upstream in Vergennes from entering the lake.
"The rapid discharge of the guns was repeated in echoes from the rugged steeps of Split Rock Mountain till it became a continuous roar." (I'd guess echos were from the Palisades cliffs) The engagement lasted about an hour, then the British withdrew.
The new ships were able to participate in the pivotal Battle of Plattsburgh. Between that and his role in the later battle Cassin was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor.

Our trip was a little less exciting, but had it's moments. Phelps brought a bunch of his paddles for us to try out. I got one I've named "Mr. Twitchy." The first stroke I took it dove and capsized me. Compared to my old paddle, it has a fine balance of enough cant to keep it from fluttering but not enough to make it slice down under the boat. It seems pretty fast though, and the white cedar has a nice look.

Jane and Phelps at a rest (& rolling) break with a couple of his paddles.

The diving mask on Phelps's boat was brought in case we went by Thompson's Point, where a bike he was riding fell through the ice last winter. I'm not sure if he had a plan to retrieve the bike and carry it on the kayak, or just look for it.

John and Frank

On the way back from the NY side, a group of large powerboats went flying by heading south. A few minutes later we could hear the wakes crashing against the palisades. Not quite like cannon fire, but pretty loud for being over a mile away. A few minutes after that the east bound wakes hit us for a little boost.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Quad cent

All up and down the Hudson Champlain corridor the buzz is on for the 400th anniversary of, well, Hudson and Champlain (up the river and down the lake, respectively). Champlain made so many trips to the new world (57 by one count) that local 400 celebrations are going to run for many years.

One event is an end to end paddle of Lake Champlain, 110 miles over 8 days. It looks like only 2 are going the whole distance, with others joining for 1 or more days as time allows.

4 of us locals joined in on Tuesday from Charlotte to Kingsland Bay.
The voyageurs approach. They spent the night camped at Shelburne Farm.

There was a slight delay because someone had locked his boat to a tree during the car shuttle, then left the key at the other end.

A bolt cutter made quick work of that. Actually the last bit of plastic sheath took longer to sever than the steel core.

The through-paddlers were more interested in shortest-distance than exploring every cove along the way.

At Kingsland park, Dave Miskell brought out lunch. An organic localvore's dream with Dave's lettuce, carrots, and peaches, local turkey, bread, 3 cheeses. The lemonade's not local... Vermont's citrus crop isn't doing well this year.

There was a voyage logbook that I think started in Quebec city in which we were all supposed to make entries. My glasses were back in Charlotte, so I couldn't read any of the early entries, but could see that many were in French.
It was accompanied by a replica of Champlain's astrolabe.
With the weather we've had, there haven't been much of any celestial sightings made with this lately.

After lunch us day-trippers went home and the rest continued to their next overnight camp at the Maritime Museum.